Life

Watch Now: How to Avoid the Zika Virus

The Zika virus is spread mostly by mosquitoes and it is of most concern to pregnant mothers or those thinking of becoming pregnant. That’s because the virus  is associated with severe birth defects including microcephaly, a condition where babies are born with smaller brains that might not have developed properly.

Watch our animated video below on basic steps you can take to avoid the Zika virus (Graphics by Alcyene C. de Almeida Rodrigues). And continue reading below for the latest update on mosquito-control efforts.

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Aerial Spraying on South Beach to Begin

Officials say that aerial spraying for mosquitoes will begin over South Beach early Friday morning, weather permitting.

The spraying will target the area from Eighth Street to 28th Street, from the beach to Biscayne Bay. This is the previously designated, 1.5-square-mile area where mosquitoes have tested positive for Zika and where the virus is being transmitted locally by mosquitoes.

An airplane will spray the insecticide Naled at 5 a.m. Friday over the ocean. Officials will rely on easterly winds to spray over the populated South Beach zone. Miami-Dade’s  mosquito control team will spray again this Sunday, and the following two weekends.

Naled is commonly used in Florida to kill mosquitoes. In 2014, almost 6 million acres of land in Florida was sprayed from the air with Naled as part of mosquito control programs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Naled is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pesticides that can be used for mosquito control have been judged by the EPA not to pose an unreasonable risk to human health, states the CDC.

“Although we had concerns about spraying in Miami Beach due to its unique topography, high-rise buildings and construction sites, we received reassurances from the CDC, Gov. Rick Scott’s offices, the Florida Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture that this is the right and safe thing to do at this time,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez in a statement.

Keep Kids Indoors Until 6:30 a.m. on Spraying Days, Officials Urge

Weather permitting, the aerial spraying will be completed within a half hour, the county mayor said. Gimenez also said that spraying missions will be kept “to a minimum on school days, and parents may prefer to keep students indoors until 6:30 a.m. following aerial spraying.”

As of late Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health reported a total of 56 locally transmitted Zika infections, mostly in Miami-Dade County. Nearly 600 additional Floridians, including 80 pregnant women, have acquired the disease this year after traveling outside the country to places where Zika is widespread.

On Thursday, Sept. 1, the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reported that mosquitoes trapped on South Beach had tested positive for Zika — the first official verification that insects in the U.S. are carrying the virus. That report confirmed what health officials have suspected since at least July 29, when they identified a one-square-mile section of Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood as the first in the nation where mosquitoes were spreading Zika. Last month, an area of Miami Beach was also identified as spreading Zika.

A blood and/or urine test can confirm Zika infection. Samples collected at Baptist Health facilities will be sent to the Florida Department of Health for testing. Results are usually available within 1-2 weeks.

Contact your healthcare provider if you think you or a family member might have gotten sick from the Zika virus infection. Travelers returning home from areas with active Zika virus transmission should avoid being bitten by mosquitoes for three weeks following travel, especially while ill, to prevent infection of local mosquitoes.

“The majority of people who get infected with the Zika virus experience no symptoms whatsoever — 80 percent don’t have any idea that they got the virus,” said Ellen Schwartzbard, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist affiliated with South Miami Hospital. “The 20 percent got very mild symptoms. But the symptoms they can experience are fever, joint pain, a mild rash and conjunctivitis, which is red eyes.”

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With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 13 hospitals, more than 23,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 100 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.